WhatsNew2Day
Latest News And Breaking Headlines

PICTURED: Firearms dealer, 70, charged with capital murder for killing three in Alabama church

A 70 year-old arms dealer has been named the suspect in the murder of three elderly Alabama churchgoers at a ‘Boomers Potluck’ party.   

Robert Findlay Smith, 70, now faces capital murder charges over Thursday’s triple-shooting at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church on the outskirts of Birmingham, Alabama. 

Those killed have been named as Walter ‘Bart’ Rainey, 84, Jane Pounds, 84 and Sarah Yeager, 75, who also goes by the name Sharon. 

Authorities believe that Smith produced his concealed gun around an hour into the potluck event and began shooting. 

No motive has been given for the shooting. Smith claimed to have been a past attendee of the church, but survivors said they didn’t recognize him from past services.

His mugshot showed him with a huge black eye – believed to have been inflicted after a have-a-go-hero flew at him with a chair in a bid to stop him shooting.  

Smith is being held without bond at Jefferson County Jail. Officials have not revealed what the motive was for the attack. 

Robert Findlay Smith shown in his mugshot following his arrest. He accused of capital murder in the shooting deaths of three people at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church

Robert Findlay Smith shown in his mugshot following his arrest. He accused of capital murder in the shooting deaths of three people at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church

Smith was shown bruised and beaten in his mugshot. 

Captain Shane Ware of the Vestavia Hills Police Department said that Smith, who police said acted alone, was subdued shortly after brandishing the pistol, by another attendee, church member Jim Musgrove.

Musgrove reportedly struck the suspect with a chair and wrestled the gun from him. 

‘Another attendee at the event subdued the suspect and held him down until law enforcement arrived,’ Ware said of the churchgoer’s actions. 

He called the Good Samaritan a ‘hero’ who saved ‘countless lives.’

‘It was extremely critical in saving lives,’ Ware said of Musgrove’s actions. ‘In my opinion, he’s a hero.’   

One of the victims, Sarah Yeager, pictured on her Facebook page

One of the victims, Sarah Yeager, pictured on her Facebook page

Another of the victims, Jane Pounds. Police said gunman had reportedly concealed the gun, a pistol, before opening fire at the potluck dinner

Another of the victims, Jane Pounds. Police said gunman had reportedly concealed the gun, a pistol, before opening fire at the potluck dinner

Walter 'Bart' Rainey, 84, pictured here with his wife Linda, was identified Friday morning as one of three seniors fatally shot St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church Thursday during a church meeting

Walter ‘Bart’ Rainey, 84, pictured here with his wife Linda, was identified Friday morning as one of three seniors fatally shot St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church Thursday during a church meeting

The day after the shooting, police vehicles could be seen outside of Smith’s home close to Cahaba Heights, less than two miles from the site of the shooting, reports AL.com. 

Online records show that Smith is a licensed firearm dealer running a store called Original Magazines 2 out of his home.

His license expires in 2025.  

Smith does not have a violent criminal past. He was cited twice for drunk driving in 2005 and 2016. 

In the 2005 case, he was also cited for possession of a handgun while intoxicated, according to the AL.com report. 

While in 2008, Smith sued Samford University and University of Alabama at Birmingham police officer Jeremy Burchfield. 

Smith accused Burchfield of wrongfully detaining him after the suspect was found on the campus with firearm and carrying a badge. 

In his lawsuit, Smith said that Burchfield had no evidence for charging the suspect with impersonating an officer. As a result, Smith was awarded damages of $29,000. 

Smith’s attorney in the case made reference to the suspect’s license as a firearms dealer saying that many of his clients were law enforcement personnel.  

The shooting, which saw another attendee injured, transpired just after 6pm, a meeting billed as a ‘Boomers’ Potluck.’ It was attended predominantly by seniors. 

Police said that Smith was in attendance at the church, located in Birmingham suburb Vestavia Hills, at the time of the shooting. 

About an hour into the dinner, he produced a pistol he had concealed on his person.  

If found guilty, Smith would be one of the oldest mass shooters in US history.

It comes as police revealed that Smith had previously attended processions at the house of worship.

Police said gunman had reportedly concealed the gun, a pistol, before opening fire at the potluck dinner.

At a news conference Friday morning, Vestavia Hills police provided some details on the shooting, such as the identities of the victims – but did not release a name or motive for the incarcerated suspect, who faces capital murder charges.

The suspect reportedly called himself Mr. Smith and was sitting alone at the event when a fellow congregant invited him to their table.

Smith then refused, witnesses said, producing the handgun and opening fire.

Police said the gunman was in attendance at the church, Alabama Episcopalian, at the time of the shooting, at a meeting billed as a 'Boomers' Potluck'

Police said the gunman was in attendance at the church, Alabama Episcopalian, at the time of the shooting, at a meeting billed as a ‘Boomers’ Potluck’

The 'Boomers Potluck' event was advertised on the church website

The ‘Boomers Potluck’ event was advertised on the church website

On Friday, a neighbor remembered Bart Rainey for his kindness.  

‘He was the nicest gentleman anyone could have met,’ Rainey’s neighbor, Brian Cocke, told AL.com Friday of the deceased.

Cocke added that Rainey and his wife, Linda, whom he had lived next door to for about four years, had been ‘absolutely wonderful neighbors.’

On social media, Cocke shared that he was ‘heartbroken’ over the loss of his friend.

‘You always hear about these things and think of how tragic the situation is, but it’s a whole different level when it turns out it was someone you knew. Just simply unbelievable.’   

Captain Shane Ware of Vestavia Hills revealed Wednesday the currently incarcerated suspect allegedly behind the shooting at an Alabama church Thursday was a regular and attended a small church meeting before killings two fellow attendees and injuring one

Captain Shane Ware of Vestavia Hills revealed Wednesday the currently incarcerated suspect allegedly behind the shooting at an Alabama church Thursday was a regular and attended a small church meeting before killings two fellow attendees and injuring one

The shooting, which saw one other congregator injured, transpired Thursday just after 6pm, at the church in Vestavia Hills, a suburb of Birmingham

The shooting, which saw one other congregator injured, transpired Thursday just after 6pm, at the church in Vestavia Hills, a suburb of Birmingham 

Addressing reporters Friday, Captain Shane Ware revealed the suspect produced the firearm about an hour into the assembly.

‘Our investigation, while ongoing, has revealed that an occasional attendee of the church that I will only identify as a white male aged 71 was at the dinner,’ Ware said.

‘At some point he produced a concealed handgun and began shooting striking the three victims.’

Ware said the first victim, Rainey – known to friends as Bart – of Irondale, was shot and killed at the scene.

The second to be slain, 75-year-old Yeager, of Pelham, died of her injuries at nearby University of Alabama Hospital, the chief said. She died just prior to 9:30pm.

He added that Pounds, of Hoover, was shot but survived, but ultimately succumbed to her injuries Friday afternoon.

Ware did not specify how many times or where exactly the seniors had been shot, nor did he reveal the extent of the survivor’s injuries. The three victims were all white.

A panicked priest was filmed running from the scene at the Alabama Episcopalian church, in a suburb of Birmingham, which was hosting the neighborhood gathering

A panicked priest was filmed running from the scene at the Alabama Episcopalian church, in a suburb of Birmingham, which was hosting the neighborhood gathering

59172153 10925615 image a 52 1655427498204

 Ware said he was not sure how many people were in attendance at the dinner, but Reverend Doug Carpenter, who founded the church in 1973, said there were roughly 25 attendance.

Carpenter said that none of the attendees knew the suspect, who referred to himself as Mr. Smith and said that he was a former member of the church.

‘We’re trying to figure out who he is,’ the reverend told AL.com. 

Police Friday said the suspect’s identity would likely be revealed later in the day, after warrants are signed.

The chief, however, did allude that the suspect may have already been known to police when questioned on the matter by a reporter.

‘Any past interactions involving this suspect are currently being investigated by numerous agencies. It would be premature to go into this topic,’ Ware said.

He added that the suspect had ‘previously attended services at this church, but as far as the motive behind this event, they are being looked into by multiple agencies.’ 

He said ‘it would be inappropriate for me to comment’ further on the matter while it was still being investigated.

He denied to comment on whether the weapon used by the suspect was legally obtained or not. 

The suspect is currently being held in the Vestavia Hills city jail, where he faces capital murder charges, Ware said. 

Multiple first responders attended the scene of the attack on Thursday evening

Multiple first responders attended the scene of the attack on Thursday evening

The shooting started just after 6pm in the small town of 39,000, police said. 

Multiple law enforcement agencies and fire departments were at the scene Thursday well into the night.

Rev. Kelley Hudlow with the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama said the congregation were inside the church when the shooting started. 

‘There were folks at church. There has been a shooting, and there are folks that have been injured,’ she said.

‘We are working to get more information, to take care of the people who were there..

‘We are praying for healing and safety for all of those who have been impacted and affected.

‘We are praying for everyone involved and we are trying to get as much information about what happened as we can get.’ 

Hudlow said it was ‘a scary thing’. 

She urged the community to ‘do what this community is really good at – and that’s coming together, through prayers and thoughts and anything else.’ 

Police in Vestavia Hills, six miles from downtown Birmingham, Alabama, confirmed that 'multiple people' were shot in a church on Thursday evening

Police in Vestavia Hills, six miles from downtown Birmingham, Alabama, confirmed that ‘multiple people’ were shot in a church on Thursday evening

Kelley Hudlow, a priest with the Episcopal Church of Alabama, said the shooting was 'scary' and urged everyone to send prayers

Kelley Hudlow, a priest with the Episcopal Church of Alabama, said the shooting was ‘scary’ and urged everyone to send prayers

A prayer circle formed in a parking lot near the church on Thursday night

A prayer circle formed in a parking lot near the church on Thursday night

People held hands in a prayer circle in Vestavia Hills on Thursday night

People held hands in a prayer circle in Vestavia Hills on Thursday night

On Thursday night well-wishers gathered in the parking lot of the church, holding hands in a prayer circle. 

‘What you are seeing is hope, folks,’ said Jonathan Hardison, WBRC anchor.

‘You are seeing healing, with those folks standing together.’ 

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More